The Fancy Hands app is like a magic to-do list: add stuff to it, and other people get it done
Disclaimer: Links to Fancy Hands within this article are special referral links—effectively a Fancy Hands coupon. If you click the links and sign up, you get 50% off your first month and I get a $10 credit. This doesn’t really help me unless I continue to think the service is great and continue using it, so it in no way affects my opinions below. But I’m noting it for full transparency. Now, on to the review.
A few weeks ago, in one of my regular rants about personal effectiveness, I half-jokingly told my wife that I wanted a to-do list that worked like magic: I would add stuff to it, then other people would get that stuff done for me.
The universe granted my wish.
A few days later, reading an article on several businesspeople’s killer apps for personal effectiveness, I read about Fancy Hands. It sounded almost exactly like what I had described: post a request, and a virtual assistant gets it done (with few limitations—most critically, the task must be completable with either a computer or a phone, as they don’t do physical tasks yet).
I was intrigued. I have often thought about hiring a personal assistant, inspired by books like 4-Hour Workweek to outsource anything that doesn’t require my direct effort to complete. But I’ve yet to find a service that’s cost-effective and efficient. Most virtual assistant services require an upfront purchase of hours, which can be a significant cost—especially if you fail to use them all. And if I want to hire a personal assistant directly, it can get expensive—plus, being just one person, they can’t scale to tackle multiple tasks simultaneously when needed. For one-off tasks, I’ve used Fiverr, but it’s not efficient for regular use (it takes too much time to find the right people you can trust), and their mobile experience leaves much to be desired.
So Fancy Hands seemed just right. They offer subscription packages, with 5 tasks for $25 being the starting point. While this works out to $5 per task, it drops to about $2.60 per task at the 25 tasks for $65 level. Plus, from my experience, some tasks—such as scheduling appointments—are free. And the ease of use is superb: through either the app or the website, just submit a request and someone acts on it.
So I signed up. And, while my wife often thinks it’s nuts, I’ve since used Fancy Hands to research a new shampoo for my daughter, reschedule a hair appointment, buy me shirts (they’ll purchase anything up to $100 on your behalf), do research for a business venture, do research for floor treatment, and research and purchase a tongue pad to help a new pair of shoes fit better.
All in all, their dashboard tells me I saved 30:13 with those requests. At $25, that works out to about $0.83 a minute—which, if I want to compare, is significantly less than the rate I can charge for consulting work, meaning there is plenty of ROI potential if I use Fancy Hands to liberate time for paid work.
And the quality? Overall, excellent. For almost every request, Fancy Hands’ assistants go above and beyond, following my directions exactly or recommending alternatives if my original request can’t be fulfilled for reasons beyond their control (such as a product I asked for not existing). While I’m still working to identify the best tasks to delegate, I have few qualms that requests I submit will be appropriately addressed.
I’ve also noticed some more intangible benefits. For one, I feel more at ease just knowing Fancy Hands is available—it’s like a pressure valve when work and family obligations build up. Another is that it’s training me to better delegate, as I’m a perfectionist and tend to avoid delegating due to fears about quality and loss of control. And it’s forcing me to regularly think about the value of time, and how my time can be best spent (note: the founder of Fancy Hands, Ted Roden, tries to never do the same thing twice).
Bottom line: subscribing to Fancy Hands can buy you time. While there’s certainly room for improvement—I wish they could run physical errands, for example—I’m definitely planning to continue my subscription, and probably increase it. So far, they’re living up to their motto: do what I love and let them do the rest.